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Historic Camp David Summit Initiates New Era of Trilateral Partnership

On Friday, the US President, Joe Biden welcomed Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, and South Korean President, Yoon Suk Yeol, at Camp David, a presidential retreat in Maryland, for a historic summit that inaugurated a “new era of partnership” between the three countries.

This trilateral meeting marked the inaugural instance in which leaders from the three nations convened for an official joint summit, beyond the informal dialogue that typically occurs on the sidelines of international gatherings. Since last summer, Biden, Kishida, and Yeol have met on the margins of the NATO Summit in Spain, the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, and the G7 Summit in Japan.

The first-ever standalone summit laid the groundwork for the future, as the leaders made a commitment to convene the trilateral summit on an annual basis. During the talks, the leaders deliberated on security collaboration, including strengthening missile defence systems and execution of joint military drills. They also agreed to establish a hotline to share information and respond to regional crises.

Apart from strengthening their diplomatic relations, the leaders also deliberated on China, Russia, and North Korea. “Due to Russia’s aggression of Ukraine, the international order is shaken from its foundation. The unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force in the East and South China Seas are continuing. And the nuclear and missile threat of North Korea is only becoming ever larger,” said Japanese PM Kishida.

The United States is aiming to benefit from renewed ties between South Korea and Japan, which have had tense relations since the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. It wants to counter the growing influence of China in the Asia-Pacific region. However, strong economic ties between China and other East Asian nations pose challenges to these endeavours. China is the largest trading partner for both Japan and South Korea.

Beijing had previously cautioned that the United States’ attempts to bolster relationships with South Korea and Japan could "increase tension and confrontation in the region.” While South Korea, Japan, and the United States want to avoid provoking Beijing, China believes that Washington is trying to isolate it diplomatically and encircle it militarily.

Camp David is located 65 miles away from the capital city of Washington DC. It has been the site of numerous high-stakes meetings, negotiations, and summits involving U.S. presidents and world leaders. The year 1978 witnessed one of the most well-known diplomatic initiatives held at Camp David. Hosted by President Jimmy Carter, the negotiations brought together Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, giving rise to the Camp David Accords, a framework for peace between Egypt and Israel. The accords paved the way for the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in 1979.

This is the first time in President Biden's tenure that he has chosen to convene a summit at the historic Camp David.


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